Is "Silas Marner" a fairy tale? Some people say "yes", while some say it is a novel with the memories of its writer, George Eliot's early days.
"Silas Marner" opens with an overview of the society where Eliot's story took place. The setting is in the English countryside in which she described general characters, such as farmers and workers in a very elaborate way because she grew up in countryside. She described the hermit-like lifestyle of people there like Silas Marner, who she joked, "looked like the remnants of a disinherited race".
The novel is full of descriptions because Eliot was interested in studying man and his context and that includes the surroundings, as well as how they influence the characters. She acts as a narrator in the book. That is why the body of "Silas Marner" is a realistic fiction. However, the core of it seems to be like a fairy tale.
"Silas Marner" has the basic construction of a fairy tale, which is the struggle between good and evil. The role model of the good side is Silas, who is simple and humble; single minded in working for a purpose--- first his religion in Lantern Yard, then for his gold, and finally for his adopted daughter Eppie. In contrast, Dunstan is the representative of the evil side. As part of the gentry, he gets addicted to gambling and drinking. He is "a spiteful, jeering fellow" who is also selfish and dishonest that he steels Silas' gold.
In every fairy tale, good always prevails over evil. "Silas Marner" goes in the same way. Eppie's love for life rescues Silas from his shallow life. Eventually, Silas lives "happily ever after" but Dunstan died. It is ironic enough that Dunstan's skeleton is found in the newly drained stone-pit behind Silas' cottage. It is actually a kind of happy ending expected in all fairy tales.
To add to that, "Silas Marner" is like a fairy tale as most fairy tales have some moral in them. The moral in the book can be that the truth will always be exposed, no matter how one tries to hide it.